Thursday, May 21, 2009

PSYOP By Walking Around

Many of you are familiar with the technique “Management By Walking Around”. Essentially it is a style of leadership where the manager learns ground truth through conversation and observation by walking among his workers. I was having a bit of trouble figuring out what to post this week while I’m up here in Idaho grandchild and grand dog sitting.

After delivering my charges to their various assignments this morning, I decided that a little PT (Physical Training) was a good start. Since my knees no longer allow me to run very much I figured a walk to ‘town’ for breakfast was in order. I’ve never clocked the distance, but I think it’s about 1 ½ miles each way.
While I’m no mentalist, I am able to observe and analyze what I see. On my way the first item of interest was that the school crossing guard at the elementary school was a Native American – not common in Silicon Valley, but certainly so up here. Next I noticed that even this little town (population 4,000) has a 9 hole golf course even though the season must be relatively short.

When I arrived at my usual breakfast spot I noticed a couple of groups of Caucasians (or as we used to say in New York, coffee klatches). One group had about 8 ladies in their 50s – 70s, a second was about 10 men ranging in ages from late 50s up. Yesterday I learned that the local soda fountain (yes it really is a soda fountain) has sociologically assigned seats in the morning as well. Apparently the breakfast group is a local institution.

On my way back from breakfast I stopped into a Panderia where the signs were only in Spanish. I’m a bread and pastry lover so it made sense for me to explore. Bread and cookies are baked daily (bought 2 for my guests) and viernes is sale day with 3 cookies or bread items (except jalapeño rolls) for the price of two. I also noticed a woman in her early 40s holding a Neflix envelope.

My point in the travelogue is that there is no substitute for being on the ground. Direct communication to local groups is a critical tactical PSYOP task/skill. In this case my limited walkabout would have yielded information about when and where to meet a number of groups almost simultaneously. It also gave me some insight into language (I had to remember what day of the week is sale day), ethnicticities, and media .

This type of analysis is relevant whether in a rural village or a city block and is the foundation of building confidence with the local population.

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